- Boris Johnson has in interview slammed out-of-office culture across Whitehall
- The PM has said full workplaces will be ‘more productive’ and ‘more energetic’
- It comes as he says 50 ‘illegal entrants’ will be sent to Rwanda in fortnight
Working from home doesn’t work, Boris Johnson declares today as he calls for a return to the office.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister says full workplaces will lift productivity and revive town and city centres.
Taking a swipe at the out-of-office culture that has taken hold across Whitehall, he adds: ‘My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.’
‘And I think that will help to drive up productivity, it will get our city centres moving in the weekdays and it will be good for mass transit. And a lot of businesses that have been having a tough time will benefit from that.’
In the wide-ranging interview, the Prime Minister also vows to change the law if ‘Leftie lawyers’ obstruct plans to send Channel migrants to Rwanda.
He says that he is ready to ‘dig in for the fight’ against those seeking to block ‘the will of the people’.
Mr Johnson reveals that the first 50 ‘illegal entrants into this country’ have already been served notice that they will be sent to Rwanda within a fortnight.
But Government sources say they are braced for a blizzard of legal claims under human rights laws.
Asked whether he might respond with a review of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Johnson replies: ‘We’ll look at everything. Nothing is off the table.’
In other developments:
- Unions threatened strike action over plans to axe 91,000 civil servants;
- The PM warned EU leaders he was ‘not bluffing’ over moves to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol;
- He predicted Britain could avoid a recession, despite gloomy economic data;
- A consultation was launched on increasing the number of children who can be cared for by a minder, in a bid to cut costs;
- Ministers agreed to delay a ban on supermarket promotions of unhealthy food;
- Mr Johnson warned Vladimir Putin to ‘find a way out’ of the war in Ukraine;
- He hinted he is considering a drive to persuade over-50s to return to the workplace.
Ministers are locked in a struggle with Civil Service unions over the working from home culture in Whitehall.
Tens of thousands of officials are required to attend the workplace for only two or three days a week, and unions are resisting a full return.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is expected to launch a major push on the issue in the coming weeks, amid concerns that failure to return to the office will damage long-term productivity.
Ministers have blamed large-scale working from home for the huge backlogs built up at the Passport Office and DVLA.
The PM says flexible working has a role to play but will damage productivity and creativity if allowed to become the norm.
He says he is ‘not antediluvian about technology…things like Zoom and Teams can increase productivity, rather than just be an excuse for people to stay at home.’
But he adds: ‘We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office. There will be lots of people who disagree with me, but I believe people are more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas, when they are surrounded by other people.’
Members of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, this week said work was ‘no longer a place’ and urged ministers to drop ‘indiscriminate demands… for civil servants to return to office-based working’.
Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday warned the calls from unions could lead to employers ‘offshoring’ their staff.
The Brexit opportunities minister told LBC Radio: ‘It’s a very privileged thing to say – for people in manufacturing, work is a place, for people cleaning work is a place, for security work is a place, for millions of people across this country work is a place.
‘The idea that civil servants should swan off abroad to do their job is slightly giving the game away, that this isn’t about efficiency, this is about lifestyle.
‘Unless of course the FDA means that they’d like us to go for offshoring, but I’d be very surprised if a Left-wing trade union thought the answer to problems was sourcing cheaper labour overseas.’
The PM’s plan to send potentially thousands of Channel migrants to Rwanda is designed to smash the business model of people-smuggling gangs by breaking the link between boarding a dinghy in France and achieving a new life in Britain.
The plan has provoked howls of protest from the Left. Legal claims against the initiative have been lodged at the High Court before removals have even begun.
But the Prime Minister says he is determined to drive the plan forward